How to Disinherit a Child
The most common type of beneficiary in a will is the child of the deceased. However, not everyone has children who need or deserve to inherit their parents’ wealth. If you are in this situation, there are a few things to know about disinheriting a child.
You Are Not Legally Required to Give Your Child Anything
First of all, it is important to clear up misconceptions about leaving property to your child. Some people assume they are legally entitled to a share of their parents’ estate. This is not actually true. The law might default to giving a child some of a parent’s estate if the parent dies without a will. However, if the parent makes a will, he or she has the right to leave that property to whomever he or she wants.
This means it is very simple to disinherit your child with New Jersey estate planning. All you need to do is write a will that gives your funds to others and that specifically states that you are disinheriting your child. The one exception to these disinheriting child rules is if your child is a minor. Until the child comes of age, you must support him or her even if you have passed away. This means that the minor will get a share of your estate for living expenses until adulthood, but you can still make sure that your child doesn’t receive anything after the age of 18 years.
Certain Types of Property Might Still Go to Your Child
Something to keep in mind is that certain estate planning documents are not revocable. If you already set up a trust fund for your child, you might not have the option of taking all the funds out of the trust. In this case, you could still keep the majority of your assets from going to the child, and you would not have to add more money to the fund. However, funds already in the trust have been essentially given to the child, and you might not be able to take them back.
If any of your property came from other family or your deceased spouse, your ability to disinherit your child might be limited. Your child might automatically inherit something from a previously deceased parent’s share of your joint estate. In other cases, such as a beloved family property, the terms of your inheritance might have required you to pass it on to your child. Since trusts can have very specific conditions, it is possible that a trust might require your child to inherit the remaining portion of the property. Breaking this sort of trust can be almost impossible, so your child might end up with certain possessions.
How to Prevent Your Estate Plans From Being Challenged
An unfortunate reality is that writing a will might not be enough to disinherit your child. There are all sorts of ways for a person to challenge a will and to argue that he or she deserves a portion of your property. Your child could argue you were not of sound mind and were unduly influenced to disinherit him or her. He or she might also claim you were misled into disinheriting based on false facts, or your child might say that his or her omission from the will is an oversight.
If you do not want this to happen, it is important to hire a talented estate planning litigation lawyer. Though it is technically possible to write your own will in New Jersey, it is easy to miss tiny details that could leave your will vulnerable to contesting. A lawyer will be able to examine your situation in more depth and recommend ways of disinheriting your child more thoroughly. They can also assist you with getting notaries, doctor’s testimony, and other things to prove you were of sound mind at the time of the will.
The Knee Law Firm provides high-end estate planning throughout Hackensack and surrounding areas. Our team of estate planning litigation lawyers is happy to meet with you and discuss your estate planning needs. To schedule a consultation, fill out our contact form or call (201) 996-1200.